In a new TIME Firsts video, gymnast Gabby Douglas opens up about her complicated road to the Olympics — and inspiring a generation of young female athletes when she became the first American gymnast to win solo and team all-around gold medals in one Olympic Games.
“When I started this journey, I never knew what it took to get to the Olympics — I had a lot of self doubt,” she says. “You have to believe that you’re good enough and not give up.”
Douglas, 21, clinched team gold at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio after taking home two gold medals in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
The athlete says she was inspired by her sister, Arielle Douglas, and her mom, Natalie Hawkins, to try her hand at the sport.
Her family taught her to “always fight and never give up, no matter what the odds look like,” she says. “Just to keep going.”
And fight she did.
One year before the 2012 London Olympics, Douglas sprained her hamstring and hip flexer. She fell 7 times on the floor.
But, she got back up — refusing to be embarrassed — and months later competed at the Olympics, where she scored individual and all-around gold.
“My mom used to always say, ‘Inspire a generation,’ ” says Douglas, the first African American to win the individual all-around event. “After that happened we were like, ‘Woah,’ we never knew we actually could.”